Outdoor weddings and events in Austin and central Texas are always fun! The weather is usually warm and we rarely have extreme temperatures in the central Texas area. This is great, since all your DJ, photo booth, photographer, caterer and other vendors will need to set up outside, too! However, we're here to let you know a few tips for "plan b."
Let's face it, no one wants to create a plan b, since we all envision the perfect wedding/event with perfect weather! Just saying the "r word" (rain) upsets some brides and grooms. We've even had a client from another state not hire us, since the planner said, "it's always warm in Austin, especially in February, right?" We replied, "honestly, it can be warm, but it can also be cold, too. We've done many outdoor events in February, and it was usually cold." The bride and planner didn't appreciate our honesty. This was 6 months ago and we had no idea that most of February was actually going to be warm, this year, who knew?
Back to plan b. Here are some tips:
1. Budget for a tent rental.
Always have a budget set aside for a possible tent rental. I know this is very difficult to do, but trust me, you'll be glad you did, if you need to actually rent one!
2. Get quotes.
Search for event rental companies in the area and get quotes, early! Find out what their rates are, deposit, available sizes for your number of guests, etc. Also, be sure to ask your venue manager if they have a tent rental. Many venues offer this at a much lower rate than rental companies. Find out the costs for the company to set up and tear-down the tents. Theses are often extra charges, unless you want to DIY, but we'd recommend letting the pros do it. You'll be too busy that day, anyway, and it's not as easy as it looks.
3. Make the call to rent a tent, early, 2-3 days before the wedding/event.
It's wise to watch your weather app (we use Wunderground, which is very accurate) and a few days before the wedding/event, make the call to rent a tent. We advise a few days before, so you won't be stuck calling around at the last minute and no one has any tents available! Find out if the event rental company has a cancellation policy. If you decide to cancel your rental (ideally because you don't need it after all) find out about the charges.
4. Don't use make-shift tents/tarps!
We actually just completed an all outdoor wedding, last weekend, and it rained 90% of the time! Their family and friends scrambled to buy tarps and canopies, the day of the wedding, to cover their guests. They managed to get them all up in time, but it wasn't the best idea. Right after the ceremony, the tarp lines broke and everyone got wet! It was tough to see and we weathered the storm right along with them. They decided to just have the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and the first dance, only. They ended their wedding 2 hours early, due to the non-stop rain. So don't make your own rain coverings.
5. Read your vendor contracts.
Last, but not least, read all your vendor contracts to find out about their inclement weather plans. Most vendors will not refund any portion of your fees, even if you end your event early or cancel that day. (We actually gave our couple above the additional 2 hour fees back, even though our contract says we don't). We require a cover in extreme temperatures and in rain. We will also turn off the equipment, if lightning is within 1 mile from the location (using the cloud to ground measuring technique). Also, if there are extreme or imminent weather warnings, most vendors will end their services, since it may be life-threatening.
Overall, do your research and plan early, for all possibilities! You'll be glad you did!
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We've taken our decades of experience and compiled it into a few helpful articles, to help you plan your wedding or event!